Colouring mindfulness exercise
by Janette Grant 29th November 2017
Colouring mindfulness exercises are another great idea for around xmas, to help us relax and focus on the present moment. I’m sure a lot of you will be thinking ‘Colouring books? I left those behind in my childhood thanks!’
Well it may surprise you to find that a colouring mindfulness exercise can be very beneficial for our meditation. Mindful colouring is suitable for adults and children alike and colouring mindfulness books seem to be everywhere these days, with the new colouring craze helping with stress-relief. This exercise allows us to narrow our focus to a specific tactile stimulation and is very helpful for many of us, but it was originally used for trauma survivors.
Many mindfulness exercises ask us to close our eyes, clear our mind and pay attention to our body, but for a trauma survivor this could trigger panic and therefore, colouring mindfulness is still a very suitable exercise for these survivors in particular as well as for the rest of us in general.
So what is Colouring mindfulness?
A colouring mindfulness exercise can help us to focus on how we choose and apply colour in a design bringing our awareness to the present moment. This is similar to mediation, where we let go of any thoughts about the future or the past, or what we are going to do when we finish the colouring: ‘At this present moment, I am colouring in’.
We should consider the coloured pencils in front of us – are they all in a neat row or are they all haphazard? We pick up the pencil and hold it, giving attention to its weight. How did we grip it? What does it feel like in our hand?
Take a deep breath, being aware of the air filling our lungs and take notice of any smells.
Next, turn our attention to the colour of the pencil, noticing the vibrant colour encased in the wood. We may be disappointed with the colour, but just as all feelings in our body have a role, all colours are important in the colour spectrum. Use our fingers to explore the smooth texture of the pencil and the rough exposed wood at the tip.
What are we feeling now? Are we feeling impatience or anticipation to begin colouring? We should now hold our pencil in one hand and direct our attention to the colouring page. How do we feel when we are facing a blank page with defined lines? When we begin to colour will we choose to remain within those lines or will we colour as if there were no boundaries? We have the choice – notice which option we are drawn to and allow ourself to wonder how it would feel to choose otherwise? For me, just the thought of drawing outside of any designated lines make me break out into a sweat! How do the rest of you feel?
Take another deep breath and pause one more moment to anticipate the colouring. How will it feel to transfer this colour in our hand onto the page in front of us? Understand that we are unlikely to finish the colouring in one go, but that is okay.
Now choose a spot on the page and gently begin to colour, noticing the sound of the pencil on the paper, the texture of the page, and any other feelings we are aware of. Notice how the colour changes when we alternate colouring with pressure or with gently tracing the pencil across the page.
We continue to colour for a few minutes, paying attention to our body and what we are feeling and the wonder of the transfer of colour as it moves from our pencil to the page.
When we find our minds wandering and thinking about what happened yesterday or what we have to do tomorrow, we should bring our awareness back to the present moment by describing what we are doing: ‘I am picking up a blue pencil and will use it to colour in the sky in the picture’.
We should not be judgmental of ourselves as to whether the colouring in is good or bad – there is no right or wrong way to colour in – it is just a form of self-expression. I vividly remember a sketch on a comedy show where two mothers set their children to do some colouring in, but very soon they were taking over as they felt that the children were not doing it as well as they thought they should! I can remember feeling very sad for the children that they should be made to feel so inadequate! I certainly didn’t find it funny and we should be aware of not being critical of our own attempts either!
When we are ready, we will end our colouring and bring our attention back from the world created by our pencils on the page and notice the room around us. We will then lay down our pencil and take another deep breath as we prepare to move on with our day.
Colouring mindfulness exercises can help to improve our overall sense of well-being. We feel more relaxed by being more aware of the present moment and we are also training our minds to focus, which helps in our studies and work.
When we find a collection of beautiful drawings to colour in it can be an inspiration and we should ensure we find images that inspire us and make our heart feel nurtured.
So what do you all think? Will you be asking for Mindfulness colouring books in your xmas stocking this year?